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The making of modern Samoa: traditional authority and colonial administration in the history of Western Samoa

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posted on 2022-08-10, 01:49 authored by Mālama Meleiseā

Since independence in January 1962 several controversial court cases have exposed the dilemma which the Western Samoan government is facing balancing fa'a Samoa (Samoan customs and traditions) and Western rational-legal systems of authority. Western Samoa’s present legislative structure was adopted in 1962 providing two systems of legal resort to Samoans. When cases or disputes between individuals, ‘āiga (descent groups), nu’u (village), itū/mālō (district) and the national government are referred to the country’s court systems, parties may invoke either of these sources of authority to legitimise their actions and claims. The problem is particularly severe in the proceedings of the Land and Titles Court, a body legally constituted to deal with matters of traditional significance. 


Table of Contents

Chapter One: Traditional Authority -- Chapter Two: Land Alienation and the Civil Wars in Samoa 1828-1900 -- Chapter Three: The Solf administration and Samoan Government 1900-1903 -- Chapter Four: The Land and Titles Commission 1903-1914 -- Chapter Five: The New Zealand Military Administration 1914-1920 -- Chapter Six: New Zealand Rule and Samoan Nationalism 1921-1945 -- Chapter Seven: The Mixed-race Community in Samoan Affairs -- Chapter Eight: The Land and Titles Court -- Chapter Nine: The Legacy of the Century -- Bibliography -- Glossary


Includes bibliographical references (pages 398-419)

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, School of History, Philosophy and Politics, Politics Department, 1986

Department, Centre or School

Politics Department

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Stewart Firth

Additional Supervisor 1

Caroline Ralston


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Mālama Meleiseā 1986. This thesis was digitised for the purposes of Document Delivery. Macquarie University attempted to locate the author but where this has not been possible; we are making available, open access, the thesis which may be used for the purposes of private research and study. If you have any enquiries or issues regarding this work being made available please contact Macquarie University ResearchOnline -




419 pages, viii leaves

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